Liimets raises human rights with Belarusian foreign minister at UN

Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) met with the Belarusian foreign minister at the UN General Assembly in New York this week. Liimets said other EU member states are aware of the meeting and Estonia did not make "concessions".

The European Union does not recognize the government of long-term president Alexander Lukashenko and has imposed sanctions on Belarus for its brutal treatment of protesters and forcefully diverting a plane flying through its airspace.

Explaining why the meeting was held, Liimets said the role of the foreign minister is to communicate with both friendly and hostile states.

"The United Nations is a format in which countries can take the opportunity to meet with countries with which relations are so strained that bilateral visits and normal communication are not possible," she said.

Liimets said other EU countries were aware of her meeting with foreign minister Vladimir Makei.

She said Estonia, the EU and its partners are in complete agreement over the non-recognition of Belarus' 2020 presidential election, which was neither free nor fair, and the messages sent to the country.

"These are a call for democratic elections in Belarus, the release of all political prisoners, and only dialogue can lead to free elections. Estonia has presented these messages together with the European Union, and of course, we will stick to these demands. The Estonian side has not made any concessions here," the foreign minister said.

Liimets said she raised the issue of human rights at the meeting.

"A wide range of issues were discussed at our meeting, and I myself mentioned all the issues related to human rights violations, and of course, in our view, it is very important that political prisoners be released in Belarus, that human rights are respected, that media freedom and media pluralism are guaranteed. I brought all these questions to the table," she said.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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